You’ve probably heard of the the ‘five-second rule,’ especially if you’re a messy eater, but turns out it’s a myth. That’s right, you can no longer justify eating floor-food. So who decided to ruin everything?
“We decided to look into this because the [five-second rule] practice is so widespread,” says Rutgers University professor Donald Schaffner. “The topic might appear ‘light’ but we wanted our results backed by solid science.”
Published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the evidence suggests that bacteria travels quickly. The researchers tested four different surfaces (stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood, and carpet) and four foods (watermelon, bread, bread with butter, and gummy candy). They found watermelon to be the most contaminated and gummy candy to be the least, while carpet had the lowest transfer rate for surfaces.
“Bacteria don’t have legs,” says Schaffner. “They move with the moisture, and the wetter the food, the higher the risk of transfer. Also, longer food contact times usually result in the transfer of more bacteria from each surface to food.”
So yes, you can get food poisoning from the floor.
“The five-second rule is a significant oversimplification of what actually happens when bacteria transfer from a surface to a food. Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously.”
So next time you drop a couple fries, maybe let the dog eat them.
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